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Landlord RXR to mandate that staff, vendors, contractors get vaccinated

Scott Rechler, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of

Scott Rechler, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of RXR, outside of Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, in Uniondale, Thursday, June 17, 2021. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

RXR, one of the largest landlords on Long Island, will require its employees to get vaccinated and its vendors, contractors and other corporate guests to show proof of vaccination before entering company property, the firm announced Wednesday.

RXR, which has more than 500 employees in its New York City and Uniondale offices, is one of the first major businesses on the Island outside of the health care industry to mandate vaccinations. About 150 work in the Long Island office.

CEO Scott Rechler said concerns about the Delta variant prompted RXR to enact a policy that builds a sense of civic responsibility.

"In times like this, you have to lead," Rechler said. "A year ago, we were taking a position to try to bring people back to the workplace safely and responsibly, so we could help our communities — local restaurants, small businesses — thrive. We have the vaccine now. We have the ability to protect people and protect life and livelihood, and that’s what we’re going to do."

Long Islanders can expect "more and more" companies to enact similar policies, according to Paul Scrom Jr., a partner at the employment law firm Halpern & Scrom.

RXR staff will need to share a copy of their CDC vaccination card with the human resources department to prove that they've received their first vaccination shot on or by Sept. 6, and if applicable, a second dose on or by Oct. 10, according to a memo RXR sent staff.

Employees who can't be vaccinated because of their religious beliefs or medical conditions may be granted an exemption. Others who do not abide by the mandate will be fired, the memo said.

RXR is extending a vaccination mandate to construction teams and other vendors, unless the policy is barred by union agreements or other contracts, the memo said.

RXR, which has a 27.5 million square-foot portfolio, cannot require tenants to mandate vaccines under their lease terms, according to Rechler. But he said many occupants are also instituting mandates.

"We already had a high percentage of our team vaccinated, so this just gives them all comfort that the rest of their colleagues are going to be vaccinated," Rechler said.

In its memo, RXR noted that the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration's safety requirements "to provide a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm" contributed to its decision.

Companies can meet OSHA's standards with vaccination mandates — or other strategies, such as requiring people to wear masks and remain socially distant, Scrom said.

"OSHA does not … mandate that employers require vaccinations," said Scrom, a Commack resident. "Employers have to provide a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards."

Northwell Health, a New Hyde Park-based system with 11 hospitals on Long Island, will require staff to be fully vaccinated by Aug. 16 or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. NYU Langone Health, which has Long Island facilities, previously told Newsday the vaccination will be mandatory for employees once given full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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